Archive for the ‘Soul’ Category

Beth Hart rocks out the Forum, Kentish Town, London, November 16th 2012

Beth Hart rocks out the Forum, Kentish Town, London, November 16th 2012

Beth Hart’s exuberance was a delight to watch as she came bounding onto the the Forum stage looking very excited. Mind you, with the audience having been kept waiting longer than expected, you could feel the crowd getting fidgety as some small ripples of slow-handclapping were heard. Not to worry, it was worth the wait as Beth was to prove. Practically bursting onto the stage, Beth started off with a relaxing piano ballad with “With You Everyday” but soon went into hot rocking mode and after that her energy knew bounds. The atmosphere cranked up with “Better Man”, a mid-tempo rock ballad – with a tinge of drama whose deliciously accusatory lyrics to a no good old flame revolve around description of life in a better relationship.

From then she had so such much enthusiasm she looked like she was going to explode. Two awesome americana rock songs followed – “Well Well” and “Delicious Surprise” that saw Beth, dressed in a knee length red dress marching and gyrating around different parts of the stage like she was about to burst. But then bringing the tempo right back down, she demonstrated her vocal versatility and subtlety on “Caught Out in the Rain” with a raw soulfulness akin to that of Randy Crawford at her height. As she smooched and swooned in front of the blues guitar, the solo was from this instrument was sublime.
There was humour too. While introducing the song “The Ugliest House on the Block” Beth recounted a story of her and her husband needing to find a cheap place to stay in Los Angeles , finding a cheap place online and it being horrible but stated that they are living still there.
Other highlights included a thrilling performance of Something’s Got A Hold of Me” with such an up-tempo beat that it could have come out of a Tina Turner songbook and the jaunty piano rock of title track of her latest album Bang Bang Boom Boom.

Then just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, as gift for the British audience , Beth and the band blasted us in the encore with a full-on version of Led Zep’s Whole Lotta Love .
We thought that was it and many started to leave but Beth came back to her piano and sang one last glorious tune “My California” conveying a glorious soulful feeling of nostalgic homesickness, that a London crowd could appreciate. This was a truly magnificent gig from Beth Hart and a long one at just over 2 hours. “Thank god you came” she said almost in a whisper at the end of the song as a compliment to the crowd. No Beth, it is for us to thank you for coming.

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THE CHRISTIANS, MILLFIELD ARTS CENTRE, EDMONTON, LONDON, MARCH 2ND 2007  (as first reviewed in Safeconcerts. Com)

(This was my first ever independent review at the time. I’d done a couple for Blues and Soul magazine and one was about to be published a few after this review in a daily newspaper. Its also one I’m proud. In a tiny theatre not holding more than 300 The Christians rocked out and played their anthology like it was an arena concert. What an amazing experience to be there and I got to say Hello to Gary Christian afterwards)

It has been 20 years since The Christians scored their first major single success with Forgotten Town. This seminal track marked their move into pop’s premier league being regarded as the leading exponent of British Soul in the late 1980’s whose lyric’s provided edgy social commentary. This lead to a successful debut album and a No.1 UK album Colours and a successful European Tour in 1990. So, its was strange to see a grossly underated and talented group playing in a 400 seat theatre. That said, the small venue and a dreary rainy night outside did not dampen the quality of the performance inside. This gig proved to be a greatest hits fest for those priviledged enough to be present. “Whats in a word”, “Born Again”,  “Ideal World” were all on the classic menu. The haunting arrangement of “Words” was particular memorable.  The only modern deviation was “Prodigals Sons” from 2003. In between songs, there was also some entertaining banter. Tongue  firmly in cheek, Garry Christian bemoaned the hardships of ageing by citing the difficulty of climbing the stairs, to which a member of the audience cheekily riposted “Buy a bungalow”.  Through his warm and generous personality he managed to get a somewhat aged audience to sing a along (if somewhat, shakily)  to “The Bottle” and up onto their feet to clap and move to Harvest for The World (no small feat). A grand performance was finished fittingly with perhaps their most socially incisive and anthemic song “Hooverville”.  Throughout,backed by an enthusiatic and competent band,  Garry Christian’s  rich soulful voice was mesmerising and transcended the humble surroundings.  In an era when so many former 80’s band are jumping on the revival bandwagon, The Christians really are a band that deserve to be rediscovered.

This year will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Lovebox festival, held every year in East London’s  Victoria Park. Apart from the Under the Stars festival held literally round the corner round my house in East Ham , Lovebox is my local festival. Forget Glastonbury, I only have to travel 4 miles to this delightful non-camping festival to see some of the best and collest contemporary acts around. Proof of the the quality of the festival is shown by the fact it was voted in 2008 the Best medium size festival in the UK. It was founded by the DJ’s who make up Groove Armada. I went 3 year’s running from 2008 to 2010 and I will go again this year.  In this post which is published on www.bluesandsoul.com , I reviewed one of the best new acts I saw at the festival – Paloma Faith.

Paloma Faith in Sumptuous Dress at the Lovebox 2010 festival

Paloma Faith in Sumptuous Dress at the Lovebox 2010 festival

Retrospective : Concerts of 2010 – Paloma Faith Live at the Love Box Festival, London, July 17th 2010

Paloma Faith surely went from musical starlet to star at the 2nd day of the, as ever, diverse Lovebox Festival.  She stunned the thousands of people present as much with her fabulous dress sense as her sassy jaw dropping performance.

She marked her entry onto stage in a figure hugging full length velvet green dress with a giant orange white and black pleated attachment that fanned out like a peacock. This was complimented an orange fan headpiece. Understandably, she moved gingerly at first in her spangley platform high heels onto the raised podium but eventually found enough footing to stroll from one side of the stage to the other. She deftly moved through tracks from her debut album from belting numbers like ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and ‘Do you want the truth or something beautiful’.  There was a little banter with the crowd between songs.  Paloma reminded everyone she is an “ackney girl” and she made clear her delight at in front of a home crowd as  she doesn’t  “gets home these days”.

The adaptability of Paloma Faith voice is remarkable. Jools Holland has compared  Paloma’s voice with blues, soul and jazz singer Etta James and she duly obliged with a classy version rendition of  ‘At Last’.  But then she went all “Winehouseque” – maybe slightly too much with ‘Smoke and Mirrors’.

The track that the crowd clearly loved was the finger snappy up-tempo ‘Upside Down’ but the most impressive was the sophiscated  ‘New York’ in which it felt like the soaring chorus was where R’n’B almost met cabaret.  Maybe not in the tonality of voice but there was something reminiscent of Candi Staton in Paloma’s style of delivery.  Until this point the festival had not sparked for me, but  with the aid of her very good backing band and singers Paloma delivered star quality in as good a performance as I have ever at Lovebox. I hope her management and record companies take note. This is one class act. Words

Paloma Faith surely went from musical starlet to star at the 2nd day of the, as ever, diverse Lovebox Festival.  She stunned the thousands of people present as much with her fabulous dress sense as her sassy jaw dropping performance.

She marked her entry onto stage in a figure hugging full length velvet green dress with a giant orange white and black pleated attachment that fanned out like a peacock. This was complimented an orange fan headpiece. Understandably, she moved gingerly at first in her spangley platform high heels onto the raised podium but eventually found enough footing to stroll from one side of the stage to the other. She deftly moved through tracks from her debut album from belting numbers like ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and ‘Do you want the truth or something beautiful’.  There was a little banter with the crowd between songs.  Paloma reminded everyone she is an “ackney girl” and she made clear her delight at in front of a home crowd as  she doesn’t  “gets home these days”.

The adaptability of Paloma Faith voice is remarkable. Jools Holland has compared  Paloma’s voice with blues, soul and jazz singer Etta James and she duly obliged with a classy version rendition of  ‘At Last’.  But then she went all “Winehouseque” – maybe slightly too much with ‘Smoke and Mirrors’.

The track that the crowd clearly loved was the finger snappy up-tempo ‘Upside Down’ but the most impressive was the sophiscated  ‘New York’ in which it felt like the soaring chorus was where R’n’B almost met cabaret.  Maybe not in the tonality of voice but there was something reminiscent of Candi Staton in Paloma’s style of delivery.  Until this point the festival had not sparked for me, but  with the aid of her very good backing band and singers Paloma delivered star quality in as good a performance as I have ever seen at Lovebox. I hope her management and record companies take note. This is one class act. Words

Three years ago today, March 25th 2009, I got the chance to witness the singer and model VV Brown performing one her quirky set when she had just started to promote the Travelling like the Light album at the pocket size Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush,West London. Although she had been tipped to be one of the new sound of 2009, she was still a relative unknown.  We were even given a free promotional EP at the end.  Here is the review I did for Blues and Soul Magazine.

VV Brown at Bush Hall, March 27th 2009

Quirky and Original VV Brown performs at Bush Hall on March 25th 2009

VV Brown, Bush Hall, London, March 25th 2009

Vanessa Brown, the 24 year old English London based songstress is surely plotting her upward course. She has, evidently, come a long way since parting company with her former record company and returning toLondonfromLos Angeleswith little money two years ago and has been widely tipped by music industry insiders as a future great. But before all that – the hard work of getting there. And that involves playing at such unique stepping stones like the diminutive Bush Hall.

This is a venue that tends to sort the wheat from the chaff. And like many who have played previously, VV Brown  was not the first to fall victim to the whims of the sound system, which had been excessively tuned and tinkered with for a future Channel 4 recording.  The zealous pre-show sound-check did not prevent the mike from failing for the singer’s first number “Crying Blood” and even then when vocal mike did come back on line, the booming sound from the band on the deeply funky edgy bass and an equally piercing treble balance threatened to drown the singer altogether

VV Brown puts her heart and sould into the gig at Bush Hall, London, March 29th 2009

VV Brown puts her heart and sould into the gig at Bush Hall, London, March 25th 2009

on the aptly named next track “Game Over” as VV tried to animate the crowd.

Not a very auspicious start but then something happened. As if suddenly coming out of a muffled fog, her voice, conveying in equal measure sweetness and drama, came shining through, to the train-like beat of “Bottles”.  This dramatic sentiment was also pushed much further in “Back in Time” as the soulful drama ridden angst in her voice combined beautifully with the indie- rich minor chords on the keyboard that slid eloquently down the scale. There were also more upbeat up-tempo numbers paying homage to the bubblegum era of the 60’s such as the infuriatingly catchy “Quick Fix” , where all you wanted to do was to get down and Twist, as well as VV’s single Single of the Moment “Leave” .  What made VV’s 40 minutes set so endearing and original, though, was her style that encompassed so many genres and fusions of style. Nowhere was this demonstrated more so than with probably the most engaging version of The Smiths “This Charming Man” that I have ever heard. Though, this was  probably not the best gig she has done to date in terms of sound quality,  VV did all she could to engage with the small 200 person audience and nonetheless made this mid-week gig a very enjoyable one for a wizened old critic. I look forward to seeing her again in the future.